Local Afghan farmers lined up in the early morning hours to partake in the 2010 national wheat seed distribution, provided by the USAID-funded Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Production in Agriculture (AVIPA) program.
Local farmers received vouchers entitling them to significant discounts on and access to certified wheat seed and fertilizer in an effort to improve the quality and production of Afghanistan’s wheat. At Monday’s distribution, farmers submitted their vouchers and provided their 35% co-payment to receive wheat seed and fertilizer. They are the first of 260,000 farmers throughout 31 provinces who will receive similar support for the winter wheat planting season.
U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry, attended today’s wheat distribution, taking the opportunity to speak with farmers about their hopes for an increased wheat harvest this coming year.
“I am delighted to witness today’s wheat seed distribution. The U.S. Government, along with our implementing partners, is committed to help improve Afghanistan’s wheat production by improving the quality. Wheat is an important part of the Afghan diet, and we want to help the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock reach out to rural wheat farmers, who produce the vast majority of wheat in Afghanistan, and provide them with good quality seed and provide technical assistance that can increase yields. Our agricultural vouchers program, AVIPA, is aimed at providing local farmers the opportunities to revitalize their productive capacity and to reinvigorate the market place,” commented Ambassador Eikenberry.
Under the watchful eye of H.E. Minister Asif Rahimi, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, farmers lined up to register to receive vouchers that they used to purchase seed and fertilizer through USAID’s agriculture voucher program.
To date, AVIPA, and its successor program AVIPA-Plus, have distributed agriculture voucher packages to more than 700,000 farmers, totaling 12,000 tons of improved wheat seed, and 55,000 tons of fertilizer throughout 20 provinces since 2009.
As an alternative to direct food handouts, AVIPA and AVIPA-Plus aim to strengthen sustainable livelihoods by providing agricultural inputs, such as wheat and fertilizer, to local farmers at an affordable cost. The farmers can then promote and support local production, community decision-making, and farmer-supplier relationships. USAID, and its implementing partner International Relief and Development, Inc. (IRD), worked closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock to design this community-based approach to seed and fertilizer distribution.